By Bonnie Lain
On April 21st, I began a lesbian media cleanse. For two weeks I only consumed media with lesbians as the main characters. TV, music, books. Everything was just LESBIANS.
There’s a bit you need to know to understand why I did this cleanse and needed it so much. I grew up in a very Christian conservative house, mostly in towns where gay people virtually didn’t exist. I didn’t meet an out queer until we moved to a town an hour south of Seattle. I accepted that I like girls when I was 13. I’d known for longer, but I’d kept hoping it would just go away. Compulsive heterosexuality hurt me until I finally embraced my full on lesbian status at 17.
I came out to my mom one week before my 18th birthday on May 6th. I’d been planning coming out to her for five years and when it finally got closer, I realized I needed a way to fortify myself.
That’s when I came up with the idea for a lesbian cleanse.
It was frustrating at first because it made me take a closer look at how little accessible lesbian media there is. I had a breakdown at the library because I couldn’t find any books with gay characters even when the librarian helped me. I’d combed the aisles for over two hours and couldn’t stop myself from having a public panic attack. I wanted this cleanse to help me remember I’m not the only lesbian, but it had just reminded me that LGBTQ+ representation is still rare and taboo.
Television and movie creators seem to believe gay women either don’t exist or spend their entire lives in sexual drama.
From books I turned to fan fiction, and yes, I know how horrifying that is. But in my years of existing on the internet I’d stumbled across a lesbian fanfic or two and honestly I was desperate. I don’t know where all the gay fanfic writers went, but I couldn’t find anything across three different fanfic sites. Luckily one of my closest lesbian friends saved the day and sent me over 60 links with lesbian stories.
Which, real quick, shout out to webcomics for being so gay.
With plenty of exciting new lesbian reading material to take with me everywhere, I turned to TV. I didn’t expect much, but I had a team of five lesbians to help me compile a list. Obviously, I started with The L Word. I really don’t know how I made the five years I was out to myself without watching it, but the time had finally come. I made it halfway through season three before crapping out and desperately needing something happier and less problematic.
Television and movie creators seem to believe gay women either don’t exist or spend their entire lives in sexual drama. I’m all for a good raunchy drama, but it gets old fast and I just want to see some happy lesbian love, dammit.
This was when I finally gave in and broadened my horizons to include gay men. I just needed to see absolutely any protagonist who was gay. I found a show based in Australia called Please Like Me. It centered around a young gay white man who is absolutely clueless and his journeys through the world. It dealt with some dark stuff but kept things mostly comedic and cute which made it easy to stomach.
Despite the obstacles in my search for queer media, this cleanse helped me more than I thought possible. I was able to come out with a feeling of normality around my sexuality. Coming out to my mom went badly, but I was able to stand my ground and be proud of being queer.
Of course, I consumed a lot of really awful lesbian media. Badly written fanfic, lesbian shows obviously made by straight men, and lesbian dynamics that just made me sad. But I also created a shield for myself and decided that I want to write more queer stories to put out into the world so LGBTQ± kids can find relatable characters.
In conclusion, straight men need to gtfo of creating lesbian media, there seriously needs to be more healthy lesbian couples shown in the media, and queer women are absolutely incredible.